Europe and the rest of the developed world face a growing crisis in the preservation of their built environment. Due to the so called 'concrete cancer', which is largely associated with acid rain and other agencies for decay, there is a multi BECUs accumulating annual need for repair in all manner of concrete structures in Europe, alone. This affects highways, bridges, buildings, factories, power-station, airports and coastal defences. The scale of this is indicated by the estimated 3 million kms of paved highway, 4.4 million dwellings in system buildings and 900,000 bridges in the European Community. Removal of defective concrete and replacement with protecting materials represents a significant part of the ongoing repair and maintenance of these. Hydro-erosion is a process by which defective concrete and other construction materials are removed by the action of a high pressure water jet. It is operated as a hand-held tool method, though a few mechanized systems have been produced. Whilst the latter promise significant advantages over hand-held tools, the lack of a suitable control method currently places significant limitations on these benefits. However, if a reliable control method can be established, then improvements in productivity, quality control and worker safety can be realised. Using the know-how to be worked out in the HEROIC project, a 8-12 increase in productively is anticipated through the inclusion of a control system which uses material property predictions and the sound and vibration of the hydro- erosion processes. The Research Feasibility Study, BRST-CT96 0385, which has addressed the extreme technical risk areas in the proposed innovation, indicates that it should be possible to achieve the control objective. Though for a substantially reduced power water system than commercially employed, this study indicates that process sound and vibration are diagnostics for essential issues such as the exposure of reinforcing bars and malfunction of the water jet nozzle. In the project, an experimental, full power hydro-erosion rig will be used to substantiate the approach and investigate methods for realising a robust control system for it. The possible contribution of predictive modelling of the erosion process, based of data derived from non-destructive testing, is also to be established. The quality of the shape definition of the material removal in known to affect the longevity of the subsequent repair. HEROIC systems would give this and at the same time protect surrounding materials and components from the accidental damage that commonly arises with other removal methods. It will also be safe for the operator, who will no longer have to handle strain inducing tools or remain at proximity to potentially hazardous equipment. From the activity of the project, an important deliverable is understanding of how to realise appropriate versions of the HEROIC concept for the different concrete repair sectors. The supply chain necessary for commercial realisation of HEROIC systems, beyond the end of the project, is present in the core partners. The partner ROSY would design and supply the sensor based control system for the machines that would be manufactured with the partners MENASA and TEHNO. In the design and development of systems for the various repair sectors, partner TECHTUBE would contribute expertise on access technology for heavy machinery and work processes e.g. for a tall chimney. TEHNO are able to promote and market the systems in Europe, and also develop prospects in USA and the Far East. Partners UNIFIX. TECHTUBE and TEHNO also represent typical end users for different concrete repair sectors. Their early experience with a HEROIC system, to be developed and produced in a post project period of trial and demonstration, will serve to promote and accelerate industry take-up. Not including markets outside the EC, which would effect a multiplier of 3, the predicted profit is 52.2 MECU by the 5th year of marketing HEROIC systems. The RTD providers CU, DISAM-UPM and ISW will have a valuable opportunity to contribute their research specialisation to worthwhile industrial outcomes.
Funding SchemeCRS - Cooperative research contracts
EC1V 0HB London
115 62 Athens
28600 Navalarnero / Madrid
G46 7TL Glasgow